An eight-inch pipe would be her casket unless something brilliant and heroic reached her in time. It was March 26, 1986, in Midland, Texas. Jessica McClure was playing in her aunt’s backyard while her mother answered a phone call. She experienced a mother’s worst fear when she returned to the yard to find her eighteen-month-old daughter missing. Jessica had fallen twenty-two feet down a well casing. Singing “Winnie the Pooh” to herself, little Jessica could not comprehend her threatening circumstances. She needed a rescue. For the next fifty-eight hours, emergency responders, local oil-drillers, and even a roofer who was born without collarbones defied a couple dozen feet of rock and complicated drilling conditions in order to rescue the helpless child.
As I read through the first two chapters of Romans, I recognize our human condition is as hopeless as an 18 month-old child in an eight-inch well casing. However, we did not haphazardly fall into this predicament. Being fully complicit in our actions, we became victims of our own willful ignorance. “That which may be known of God is manifest in them…so they are without excuse. They did not like to retain God in their knowledge…[but] knowing the judgment of God…not only do…but have pleasure” in their uncleanness, vile affections, and reprobate minds. Even the most morally upright of mankind is “inexcusable” for though they teach what should not be done they still do “the same things.” We are our own accusers for our consciences bear witness of the law written in our hearts which God shall one day “judge the secrets of men.” Only “doers of the law shall be justified.”
We desperately need a rescue. We don’t deserve to be rescued because of our rebellious hearts, yet Jesus Christ accomplished the greatest rescue in history. He did not defy bedrock. Rather he defied death. His holiness meant death had no grip on Him. Through His resurrection and power, we now have a way of “obedience to the faith” through the righteousness of Christ. If we were only rescued from our plight yet left to live our own way, the rescue would be incomplete. Death would be like the house cat playing with a mouse. The rescue would prolong the inevitable!
The gospel of Christ has the power of complete salvation “to every one that believeth…for therein is the righteousness of God revealed.” The gospel is the message of hope for it tells us we can receive the righteousness of Christ which equals the fulfillment of the law. Through the holiness of Christ, the stranglehold of death slips away.
“The just shall live by faith!”